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Varicose Veins--What are they???

Sometimes patients come in wanting help with removing varicose veins. What they are usually referring to are the smaller type, called "idopathic telangiectases" or "spider veins."

These are:

  • close to the surface of the skin

  • look like winding, thin, blue threads (may be difficult to see with darker pigmented skin)

  • may be in spider-like groupings

  • painless or a little itchy

  • not swollen above the skin surface

  • mainly in the lower legs or face

  • may cover a good portion of the skin area

  • generally, the complaint about them is cosmetic

The larger type are:

  • bulging and raised above the skin surface

  • can be nearly 1/2" wide, depending on which vein they are

  • look like cords or rope

  • generally wavy, in a single path, but may look like tangled knots

  • are larger veins, so deeper, and the blue color is not as distinct (they may just be the color of your skin)

  • usually in the lower legs or anus (those are called hemorrhoids)

They may have associated symptoms of:

  • pain

  • burning

  • leg fatigue

  • leg swelling

  • skin ulcerations

  • eczema

  • darkening skin

  • scaly, dry or hardening skin

Like I said above, both of these come from the same problem-- weak valves in the veins. Wait, veins have valves??? Yep, they are different than arteries. Veins carry blood back to the heart; arteries carry blood away from the heart out to the body. Arteries have several layers of muscle, which helps move the blood they contain. Veins rely largely on us moving around to get the blood back to the heart. The vessel gets squeezed by the body muscles that surround it. As it is squeezed, the blood moves toward the heart incrementally between each set of valves. If the valves become weak, the blood back-flows until a good set of valves stop it. The weak valves and back-flow are called venous insufficiency when it happens in the large, deep veins, and almost always causes leg swelling. From there the blood pools up, and this causes the varicose veins. I think you can reason out that, if the blood is not travelling back to the heart, and through the lungs to be re-oxygenated, all kinds of problems can happen. The best way to prevent varicose veins of all sizes-- any kind of exercise that involves leg movement, especially of the lower leg muscles. Compression socks can help, but they don't address the core problem, and if the person continues on a sedentary lifestyle path, the problem will worsen. If it grows very bad, the only option will be surgical. I definitely want you to avoid that! Naturopathic medicine has many options to help strengthen weak veins, and to help get your blood moving. If you have signs of varicose veins take action now, and avoid the long-term destruction they can cause. Fill out my Patient Application today.

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